Tribal Tensions Escalate in Eastern Sudan Amid Ongoing Conflict

Tribal tensions escalate in Sudan, sparking a humanitarian crisis as 20,000 flee daily. UN warns of "wholly man-made" catastrophe fueled by foreign weapons, risking mass atrocities against civilians.

Shivani Chauhan
Updated On
New Update
Tribal Tensions Escalate in Eastern Sudan Amid Ongoing Conflict

Tribal Tensions Escalate in Eastern Sudan Amid Ongoing Conflict

Tribal tensions are escalating in eastern Sudan, according to Middle East newspaper reports on April 23, 2024.

The region has been facing one of the fastest unfolding crises globally, with an estimated 20,000 people being forced to flee their homes in Sudan each day, half of them children. "The situation in Sudan is a crisis of immense scale," said UN political chief Rosemary DiCarlo, describing it as "wholly man-made."

The year-old conflict between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) led by Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) commanded by Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo has ignited this humanitarian catastrophe, fueled by weapons from foreign supporters who continue to flout UN sanctions. The fighting has spread to other parts of the country, especially urban areas and the western Darfur region, resulting in over 14,000 deaths, tens of thousands wounded, looming famine, and over 8.6 million people displaced.

In a significant development, a dozen Arab tribal leaders from Darfur have pledged allegiance to the paramilitary RSF, which has its origins in the Janjaweed militia that committed atrocities against non-Arab ethnic minorities in Darfur starting in 2003. This move could significantly influence the ongoing conflict, with experts fearing a repeat of history and civilians being targeted based on ethnicity. The announcement by the tribal leaders carries significant weight, as they represent the "real government" in the region.

The spiraling violence poses an extreme and immediate danger to the 800,000 civilians residing in El Fasher, the last stronghold of the SAF in western Sudan and home to 2 million people including half a million internally displaced persons. It also risks triggering further clashes in other parts of Darfur, where more than 9 million people are in dire need of assistance.

Why this matters: The escalating tribal tensions and ethnic dimensions of the conflict in Sudan threaten to further destabilize the region and lead to mass atrocities against civilians. The international community must take urgent action to address the humanitarian crisis, push for a ceasefire, and hold those responsible for war crimes accountable.

The conflict in Sudan has seen widespread human rights abuses by both warring parties, with reports of sexual violence, child soldier recruitment, torture, and arbitrary detention, according to the UN. External interference, including the supply of weapons and other support from foreign actors like Iran and Russia's Wagner mercenary group, has been a major factor in prolonging the fighting. As the violence spirals out of control and takes on increasingly ethnic dimensions, millions of civilians are at risk of famine, displacement, and mass killings unless the international community acts swiftly to stop the bloodshed.

Key Takeaways

  • Tribal tensions escalating in eastern Sudan, with 20,000 people fleeing daily
  • The conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces and Rapid Support Forces fueling the crisis
  • Darfur tribal leaders pledge allegiance to paramilitary RSF, risking ethnic violence
  • 800,000 civilians in El Fasher are at extreme risk, and 9 million need urgent aid
  • International action is needed to address the humanitarian crisis, enforce the ceasefire, and hold perpetrators accountable